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Savannah GA District Attorney Spencer Lawton defends original trial of Troy Anthony Davis

Talk Nation Radio for October 23, 2008

Chatham County Georgia District Attorney Spencer Lawton on Troy Anthony Davis: Unreliable evidence at trial defended by original prosecutor in Davis case

Produced by Dori Smith,
WHUS Storrs, FM 91.7 at the University of CT, a Pacifica Affiliate Station
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Chatham County Georgia DA Spencer Lawton discusses his statements to the press about the quality of his original trial of Troy Davis. Davis was arrested in 1989 for the shooting of a police officer, Mark Allen MacPhail. Spencer Lawton explains how he asked for the death penalty and got it. He insists the witnesses at trial were reliable, but seven of nine have since recanted. He finds their recantation evidence 'suspect' because it's 'too much of a coincidence'. In fact, some of his witnesses were trying to recant at the time of the trial. State and federal courts have blocked affidavits and refused a new trial or evidentiary hearing on procedural grounds.

Lawton begins by arguing that the witnesses were telling the truth at trial but lying when they recanted. When pressed for more detail on the reasons the courts refused to hear the new evidence Lawton admitted it was due to procedure, claiming he had nothing to do with it. 'Not me, the law!' Lawton has however been arguing against the defense in the Davis case throughout lower court proceedings including one held at the Georgia Supreme Court in 2007.

As we talked with Spencer Lawton about other aspects of the case he brought against Davis he claimed the original trial witnesses were cross examined by both the prosecution and defense and none of them said they had been coerced. Attorney Deirdre O'Connor says that's flat out wrong. Then we hear a clip from the 2007 appeal hearing where Lawton was present while his Assistant DA David Lock said some of the witnesses did say at trial that they had been coerced into signing what police wanted them to sign.

Other guests on today's show include: Attorney Deirdre O'Connor of Innocence Matters. She has been speaking with Troy Davis throughout the week and wrote an Amicus brief for the 2007 Georgia Supreme Court appeal in support of the defense. Kathleen 'Kitty' Behan is one of Troy Davis's previous attorneys. Ezekiel Edwards is an eyewitness expert and staff attorney at the Innocence Project. He offered scientific analysis of the witnesses statements in the Davis trial for an upcoming Talk Nation Radio special scheduled for air on 10/24/2008 at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time at or FM 91.7 in the region of Hartford, Storrs, Middletown, eastern MA and western RI. (more below)

Talk Nation Radio airs nationally through syndication with Pacifica Network. Audio of the show is available on our web site: for more information and calls to action.

More about the guests on this week's show: Zeke Edwards is a staff attorney at the Innocence Project based in NY and a Mayer Brown Fellow focusing on eyewitness identification. He points out that more than 220 people have been cleared by DNA evidence but testimony from witnesses is another leading problem in the original flawed convictions.

Kathleen A. Behan, National Law Journal named her one of the Top 50 women litigators

Innocence Matters, Attorney Deirdre O'Connor, Innocence Matters, (Emory University Law)

From the web page: 'Will this INNOCENT death row inmate - arrested at age 20 and imprisoned for the last 19 years -finally be given the opportunity to have the compelling evidence of his innocence heard by a jury of his peers? NOT ANYTIME SOON. A 57% majority decided that it was legally acceptable to deny Troy a new trial. The other 43% thought the question of Troy's innocence was a fundamental one warranting a new day in court'.

Amnesty or GFADP, and NCADP webites to sign the Petition Entitled Innocence Matters asking for Troy to get a new Trial.

Also for further information try: The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

And the Death Penalty Information Center, (see: 'Troy Anthony Davis' and new: 'Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens took the occasion of the Court's denial of review to a death row defendant in Georgia to question the adequacy of the appeals process in that state. On October 20, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Walker v. Georgia, an appeal from the Georgia Supreme Court, and Justice Stevens concurred in that denial. However, Justice Stevens said he found the lack of careful scrutiny by the lower court to be "particularly troubling," especially since the case involved a black defendant and a white victim. Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote separately in the case, sharply disagreeing with Justice Stevens, and maintaining that no proportionality review by the Georgia Supreme Court was constitutionally required.')



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